Be Still

This work we do is tough stuff.  We work in the messy, dirty, darkest parts of life and in doing so we have to find ways of keeping the self safe and sane.  sometimes that thing which comes in the midst of chaos, is exactly that which is needed.

Just like the parent who finds themselves subjected to a campaign of denigration, as a professional I have repeatedly drawn attack from parents, professionals and others in the field for whom I appear to represent some kind of personal threat.  When this dynamic occurs I have found it best to take my own advice and remain absolutely silent and absolutely still in response.

When others project blame, the temptation is to respond with a counter attack, which simply means that the outside world looks on and believes that it is a simple fight between parents.  Therefore, when the temperature rises, the best way to keep cool is to say nothing, do nothing and contemplate the meaning of the actions one is observing in the other.  For the actions often reveal the vulnerability which is being covered by the rage.  And in understanding the vulnerability, one is able to remain compassionate instead of being drawn into the counter attack.

Yesterday as I was getting on a train home I bumped into someone I worked with many years ago, someone whose children I had worked with in reunification all the way through to success and beyond.  Those same children are adults now and healthy and well and happy in their own lives. They also understand the issues that their once alienating parent had and has and have managed to deal with them without counter rejecting.  Children who are in relationship to both of their parents is always our goal after reunification, because these are children whose own children will not need to carry a trans-generational narrative into their own parenthood.  As we rattled along catching up, I heard all about those now grown up children and I knew again that what we are doing with the FSC reunification model is without doubt right in every way.

I stepped off the train with gratitude for the ‘co-incidental’ meeting, because it restored my faith in our work on what had been a somewhat unpleasant day.

When the going gets tough, listening is better than talking and observing is better than doing.

And when you stand still in the face of an onslaught, the gift that comes first is the still, small, voice of truth.

Be still and listen, the answer will come.

And for that I am enduringly grateful.




  1. A welcome reminder of the important need for guidance and support when on the receiving end of an onslaught of unfair (sometimes untrue) allegations. For well over a decade, I’ve often mused on the thought of how much energy (and upset) I’d have saved myself had I the strength and wisdom to keep my gob shut when under, what seemed like, relentless attack upon relentless attack…….oh, to have found and/or created enough ‘space’ to process the (often legitimate) anger I felt when being mistreated

    Yes, easier said than done but (I’ve since learned) we all have the capacity to, as Karen puts it, ‘be still’ and withstand our own pain…..provided that we only take responsibility for our own feelings, thoughts and actions (and not those of the person or organisation blaming us) – to avoid merging our ‘reality’ with that of other party and attempting to juggle their feelings together with our own. A road that often led to me participating in the ‘blame-game’ and allowing others to avoid sitting with their own pain

    It was this neurosis (assuming responsibility for things and people I had little influence over) that lay at the root of my PA nightmare…….a trait learned as an alienated child (where I’d always been made to feel responsible for the feelings and needs of my emotionally immature parents)

    Those twin objectives of ‘our children understanding the issues that their parent have/had’ and attempting to set an example of how they can ‘manage to deal with them without counter rejecting’ is what has driven (and continues to drive) me in the hope that ‘these are children whose own children will not need to carry a trans-generational narrative into their own parenthood’……if that happens my journey will have been worthwhile

    Thanks again, Karen


  2. I am so pleased that you had this, as you say, ‘coincidental’ meeting which brought a karmic circle back round to you at the right time.
    Please know that many of us who have never met you personally are observing silently too & we are using our critical thinking skills to objectively assess the situation.
    Much love, admiration & gratitude for the work you do in the world is out here in our hearts.


  3. Glad you met someone you had helped. I think these things happen when you need them. Currently receiving very personal denigration here – for daring to say no. Being still is a welcome reminder when trying to decide whether or how to respond to allegations or not.


    1. Yes when allegations come be still. Observe the nature and underlying purpose of them before you respond in any way. The purpose is usually to either a) justify a behaviour which is unjustifiable or b) to strategically take you out of the picture. In responding you have to respond to the intention not the allegations. Reach Blush and Ross and Terence Campbell in Bernet et al Handbook for Mental Health Professionals to understand this dynamic more.


  4. Yes I too wished I had been”still” instead of bristling with hurt and indignation at the endless onslaught. So many things I have learnt too late…….


    1. Is it too late? Or is it just your, unique and distinct, journey… opportunity to grow?


      1. EHFR…… sadly it is simply now a fact that it IS too late to change a history that led to the loss of my child/ parent life……yes I CAN put the learning into my future life, where needed, but that cannot compensate for what has been… journey is indeed unique but that doesn’t mean that what has been on it has brought me joy and happiness….much learning,yes but at times at a terrible cost…..


      2. Sadsam – in summary, my experience over many years has been that everything (previously perceived as bad experiences) that’s happened to me was, in fact, an opportunity to grow into a more mature and balanced individual. Like everyone else on this planet, my journey started where it started and those painful experiences were seeking to highlight the ‘gaps’ in my under-developed Self……I always, wrongly, saw those experiences as my enemies rather than the friends they actually were. To the extent I failed to heed the warnings (often using arrogance to hide my shame for the lack of childhood nurturing that was not my fault or responsibility), I encouraged the sowing of seeds for the PA plight I found (and still find) myself in.

        Nothing can replace what I’ve lost (or never received) as the child of an alienated father or as an alienated parent myself but I remain convinced that my ability to withstand the pain of (and learn lessons from) my journey provide much hope for the future…..if and when my adult children have that ‘lightbulb moment’. I, genuinely, feel my unwanted PA hell has made me a better person than I would otherwise have been, simply by dint of reaching this point and feeling, stronger, wiser and more hopeful forthe future

        It’s a year this month since I was reunited with my, now, 19 year-old son who I still barely know – until last May, if I added up all the time I’d spent with him since his 2nd birthday it would just about total 2 years. Had I not found this blog a few years ago and gained some of the insights I’ve benefited from (not to mention relief from the isolation we all feel at times) I’m doubtful my son and I would be where we are today – it’s far from ideal or easy (after all we’ve both been damaged by PA!!) but we have something to work with and I, now, have a few tools to help me along the way……one day at a time. There’s a very long way to go as he has 3 older siblings and they are far more distant, emotionally.

        As quoted above (using Karen’s opening post)…..the twin objectives of ‘our children understanding the issues that their parent have/had’ and attempting to set an example of how they can ‘manage to deal with them without counter rejecting’ are what have driven (and continues to drive) me in the hope that ‘these are children whose own children will not need to carry a trans-generational narrative into their own parenthood’. For me, that’s the ‘opportunity to grow’……


      3. As I said EHFR…..”much learning,yes but at times at a terrible cost…..”. I am happy for you that you are reconciled with one of your children and hope that this extends to your other children at some stage too………life is one big learning curve/ opportunity……yet the idea that such learning has to / can only occur through immense pain and anguish is one I would challenge…….shit is shit and is unwelcome in anyone’s life.


  5. Thanks for this Karen.
    Always good to read of others people’s happy endings – or at least happy journeys.
    Its now coming up to 4 years since the black hole of a devastating court order in our case, and coming up to 6 years since my husband had any meaningful time, which is to say more than 15 consecutive minutes, with his son, with no contact at all for a couple of years now, even though cards, letters and presents are still sent for birthdays, Christmas and odd occasions in between. The excision has been complete, and he lives with no paternal references or touchstones in his life. His Dad and I however have been working, for the last couple of years once the shock receded, on healing, and living our lives as happily and healthily as we can. Its a long slow road, but we’re on it.
    I’m left musing though how we have been living parallel lives, less than a mile apart. Here, the boy/man is loved, missed, talked about and thought about, with joy, some sorrow still, but compassion and love. We see, through public pictures, how tall a man he has become, and hear, through public portals, what a nice young man he is. But presumably in his world we are not talked about, or thought about, or missed, other than maybe in silent spaces deep in his mind. Those spaces must feel twisted though.
    For us, if he were to walk through the door today we’d pick up, and carry on. But for him I fear It feels like too much time has passed – how long that bridge must feel.
    Karen, at what point is the distance too far a gap to bridge? The door back is open, but we’re off down the corridor into the future.


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